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It's about 9:30 pm on a Sunday night. I still have about three sets of photos from Guatemala (months ago!) that I still haven't shared. Honestly, not a day goes by where I don't wish I was exploring there.  ut life has been good-- and busy, and I've traveled two other beautiful places since then, so I really can't (and I'm not) complaining.

I'm currently exhausted. And maybe fighting something. But I can never tell anymore-- is it a mild allergy to mangoes or my dog? Or maybe there is something going around? Or maybe it was touching one too many germy things while traveling. Tonight I am home. Last night I slept at a friends. If you're following me on Instagram, you know I rented out our house on Airbnb "just to see what it's like" and filled up the calendar for an entire month in three days time. I was't expecting that. I thought for sure we'd have a weekend or two booked up, but since I didn't publicly announce anything, I expected it to be mostly crickets. I was so wrong, haha.

Maybe I would have better prepared if I had known-- considering I'm now at a loss of what the plan is for housing and for the dog... but I'll figure it out. For now, we're staying a few blocks away at a friends house for a little while. Then who knows, haha. Cliche, but I rarely (never) have regrets. This is just another opportunity for another amazing learning experience, right? Right.

Things have been good. A little chaotic, but good. For a minute I thought, man, maybe I shouldn't have done this Airbnb thing, but the feeling quickly dissipated... and I went back to thinking, "this will be a good experience." I think it will be. Breaking old habits, living on less needs, finding new adventures in town, just all of it. Sometimes I like to think that my positivity rubs off in Marlowe. That she's excited about so many things... because I'm excited. But then sometimes I think, maybe thats how we all should be, and I just haven't really lost that childlike awe too much. You know? That I do get excited by tiny frogs, interesting flowers, or trying new things. (yes, my mind went to tiny frogs, haha). There's so much negativity in the world and I want her to always keep that positive light. It's hard when we come across negative people-- or I guess, it's not hard, but it is a good learning lesson for her. She can see that we can choose to be happy and kind or negative and harsh-- and happy is a much better way to live--- finding joy in simple every day pleasures is best.

I'm hoping to take a bit of money we earn from this experience to travel somewhere far with Marlowe. She's asking for South Africa. But I have Asian on my mind. We'll see where this year takes us. I'm just so grateful to have a kid who so willingly and happily down sizes her material things-- who see's that things can be fun or useful, but understands the importance of finding joys outside of that. It's not always easy. There are times when I see things that I feel like I want or would enjoy having-- but I know that I do not need-- that I should just keep walking or scrolling. We're human. We want things and yearn for things. But she understands things at six that some people may never fully understand. And I'm proud of her for that. I'm grateful for her for that.

grateful for this kid too ^ it's nice to have friends that share so much of my values and brain. 

Marlowe and I are having a date tomorrow. To be completely honest, her and I have special dates all the time--- but we never really call it anything. But over the past few months I've put more pressure on her and alex to spend more alone time together-- to get out and adventure just the two of them. We put a name or title on it... calling it her daddy daughter dates." And while I have alone time with her every single day, it doesn't seems as spectacular without the title. So I promised her that tomorrow, on her day off, her and I could do something special. Anything she wants. I'm looking forward to it--- I'm just hoping she doesn't choose iceskating, haha. I think the iceskating dates are better reserved for her and Alex ;)

Anyway we're good, happy, and healthy here. And we're excited for our next adventure... even if it's right in our own town and lacking our own bed :)

I hope you guys all had an amazing week. Marlowe and I have been back in Florida for about 2-3 days and it feels like a year and an hour at the same time. :) Looking forward to spending some quiet, easy time with her-- walking through the neighborhood, maybe watching some documentaries, workbooks, whatever. Happy holiday weekend, friends! Have a great week!

Good Neighbor

Hi friends!

Do you love your neighbors? Honestly, I hardly know my neighbors, but I do like them, from the few times I've met them. You wouldn't believe how much a power outage can bring a neighborhood together! I met more neighbors in one hour than I had met in my entire time in living here, haha. Either way, I like to think that I'm a good neighbor. I mean, I'm an okay neighbor at the very least. When the older woman across the street went into the hospital, I asked her daughter to let me know if I could help in anyway. Last week I saw the woman around the block carrying a big bag of leaves and I asked her if I could help her (in my somewhat broken Spanish--- most of my neighbors are Spanish speaking, not English speaking). She told me she was fine and I was a beautiful person, haha. But she's a beautiful person! This woman must be no less than 90 outside doing yard work everyday. She's a BA for sure!

Anywayyy, Orchard Hardware recently pitched this "Good Neighbor" concept-- the idea that it really doesn't take much (time, money, energy) at all to do something nice for your friends and neighbors. And they're right. It can be a small gesture like offering to take the trash out, or mowing the lawn, or painting a fence or old patio furniture. When they brought up the idea, my friend Kristine automatically popped into my mind. She lives on a huge property that could use a bit of love (in the form of fruit trees) in my opinion. Honestly, I'd like to go and live in her house and convert it into my own tropical fruit farm (with no mango trees).

She's got a beautiful pool, and that one lone banana tree. But she needs more fruit, right? Right.

So the last time I was at Orchard Hardware, I picked up a papaya tree. They're not expensive plants and they're VERY easy to grow and care for. We have about five in our yard and they give us the most amazing fruit ever. And off to Kristines house I went and planted a tree for her to come home to from work :)

A lone bench. 

I also grabbed a few cheap  planters and also very easy to grow aloe plants to decorate her little bench. I figured one day soon, when all things settle down (or when I move into Kristines house, haha) Marlowe and I can have a painting party and decorate them for her :)

A voila! Very little time, money, and/or energy spent-- and a kind gesture done!

If you haven't checked out Orchard Supply Hardware yet, I totally think you should! It's seriously my new favorite hardware store. They're opening one in Orlando (Bayhill) and Naples this month! There's a few of them in south Florida already too :) You can find your nearest location: HERE. Head in there a pick up your own copy of the OSH circular to get inspiration for your own spring projects-- for your yard OR someone else's :)

*this post is sponsored by Orchard Supply Hardware.

Hola Puerto Rico!

Hi friends! How are you?! I'm SO beat! Marlowe and I arrived in San Juan today for a week of exploring. We're staying with a friend at her condo here in town. I haven't really been here in forever... the last time I really explored this island I was 16. But here we are again. Christine said she was coming and asked if I wanted to join, I looked at flights, found a flight for 19$... yes 19$!!! and was like, "yeah, were coming." haha. 19$ pre taxes and such, BUT STILL!

SO far the weather is perfect and the company is amazing. The only hard past is finding food has been more difficult than I expected. It's actually harder here than in Mexico and in Guatemala. Maybe because I was hoping for more healthy vegan options and trying to steer clear of the (delicious) beans, white rice, and fried plantains. We're going to head to the store tomorrow fro loads of fruits and ingredients to make soup... we all LOVE soup.

Anyway, I'm going to work on this sleep thing again. Hoping for loads of sunshine and fresh veggies tomorrow! :) Hope you guys are having a great weekend! <3<3<3

Is This Useful? (On Anxiety, Mindfulness, & How I'm Getting Through Life & Conquering Personal Fears)

I've been a collector striving for minimalism my whole life-- I've wanted less and collected more as a constant part of my life path. I've bought things, held on to things, struggled to let go of things, and then dropped everything completely and totally at once to start fresh all in the same month.

I've done this physically and emotionally throughout my entire life-- but I still feel like I've come a long way in my past 30+ years. If I met her today, I wouldn't recognize the candy bar eating, binge drinking, pretend-healthy microwaving mock meat cooking, Red Bull drinking insomniac, anxiety prone person that I was 12 years ago. Sure, I look the same--- maybe it's genetics on my side, and when attempted, most people do guess that I am a decade below my actual age. Other than my rounder face, the bleached blonde hair, and the non floppy pre-baby boobs I had, I do look the same. Emotionally, I'm different.

I still have my child like optimism--- always always hoping for the best. Idealistic to the fullest extent. I still and will always have my desire to change things-- to fix the world. I still panic in open water and I'm painfully far from ever riding a bike. I still want to grow and better myself every single day. And I do sometimes struggle to let things go (physically, not emotionally)--- but I'm working on it. But all together, my thought process is somewhat more streamline (somewhat). I'm not sad. I don't have highs and lows. And my anxiety has mostly (basically completely) been put at bay.

Before getting sick and after getting sick, I think diet has had one of the greatest impacts in my overall feeling and well-being. Eating real food and cutting out the processed "food" has made all the difference. It's made me feel alive. I felt a giant shift when I went vegan from the standard American diet -- but then (especially) the change from going from your standard vegan diet to a diet of mostly high raw fruit + greens and low fat (with a bit of cooked food for dinner--- sometimes lunch) in the past few months has impacted me in uncountable ways. I ate healthy the past two years since getting sick, I don't think anyone would argue that--- but the more recent change in diet really shifted my whole entire life. Without anticipating or expecting I've seen a countless number of positive outcomes in my diet and mood. And I am grateful that I finally have seemed to find something that really works-- or is seemingly really working for my health and my life (as mentioned, I don't consider myself 100% yet).

But I don't think diet has been the only part in my emotional growth. I think diet can get you far-- very far (maybe the furthest) but there's more to it than that. I think a big part has been due to my childlike (hopeless) optimism and my ever growing desire to better myself. I don't really care for the word 'mindfulness'-- it just feels like another trendy catchphrase coined by someone. But there is something to be said about being mindful in everything we do--- the way we breath, what we eat, in every person we choose to experience (or tolerate) in our lives, every single moment we decide to engage in and be grateful for, etc. It doesn't necessarily mean that I'm meditating every minute of every day, but rather, that I'm attentive to where and how each moment of my short life is spent... and what thoughts are happening in those moments too.

I'm now very cautious with my life-- sometimes, haha. Well, I should be cautious to use the word cautious. I'm teetering on a line between caution and GO. Sure, I sometimes jump into things without overthinking (my mom would describe me as a tornado) and maybe get caught up in less than perfect situations, but never regretfully. Because I know that at the end of the day, life is short and even when things are less than ideal, they're moments that I'm going to grow from and out of. Actually, you know what-- I dont want to use the word cautious at all. I do want to use the (trendy) word mindful. I've very mindful with my life now--- even before, during, and after I tornado ;)

I can't actually say with certainty that I'm cautious. I mean, I am, depending on the personal connotation you take with the word. For me, I've been cautious in a productive way, not in a hermit way. I've actually conquered more fears this year/month than ever before. And while I know that some of my own fears are silly, they've been personal crutches and set backs for me-- so as little as my own fears might be to someone else, it's had a big impact in my life that I've been able to conquer them--- without panic, fear, and crippling anxiety taking over.

So what is one of the most simple things that has had the biggest impact on my life this year? Well, as much as I'd like to take full credit for this thought--- I can't--- it goes right back to The Minialmist movie I've mentioned oh so many times--- Dan Harris (tv reporter, author) brought up the question:

Is this useful?

And this can idea can be applied to every single thing.

Whether it's about making (or not making) a purchase, or dealing with an angry neighbor, food, or best of all: fear and anxiety. With every anxious or overwhelming feeling I now ask myself: is this useful? Yes, some anxiety is useful---  anxiety can sometimes be how we save others lives or save our own lives in times of need. It's how we finish that task right on time that we've been postponing for much too long. Sometimes that feeling of anxiety can come in handy.

But sometimes (in many cases) it does not.

It's now those moments on trips, when the plane starts to bounce and the cabin gets a little too shaky for my personal comfort zone. When my heart starts to race and I want to cry a little bit--- where I now stop and ask myself: is this useful?

And the reality is--- my heart racing, my fear of losing Marlowe, and any other horrific thoughts I might have on that plane ride are not useful. The reality is that if something happens to the plane, then something happens to the plane. The plane will go down and there will be nothing I can do about it. So my fears and stress and worry are not useful in the moment. They don't get me further in my journey, they don't make me safer, they don't make me feel accomplished-- they are not useful.

So now, whether I'm 30,000 miles up in the air, or wading through water in a dark underground cave (I did that last week! I took a video to prove it!), or at home drowning in a never ending to do list, I ask myself, are my worries, anxieties, or possible pending negative emotions useful? You know what? They're almost always not.

Things are good. Hectic as all hell--- as mentioned I sort of (accidentally?) turned our home situation upside down this week--- but I don't let myself to negatively feel it anymore. My body (and every body) deserves to live in a feeling of comfort and not self induced, unnecessary stress.

I dont know.  I guess what I'm saying is this thought/idea/question/mantra/whatever really has helped me with so many stresses of life... and maybe it can help you too? I just remember life is short. It's up to me to how I will handle myself and the surrounding experiences around me. Or up to you on how you will perceive, translate, and handle the things, people, emotions, whatever in your life. So yeah, this post is longer than I intended, but the cliff notes are: with everything you do, ask yourself: is this useful? And if yes, do it well. If not, let it go.


Alright friends! I hope you're having a great week! I'm running around like crazy and going to check out a temporary house later today too. But the weather is still pretty nice and something to celebrate for sure! ppppppssss. I have posted (a long time ago) about my anxiety issues if you care to read. I think most of the people around me would say I've overcome A LOT of it. I'm still an introvert that does better in small groups, but I can handle bigger situations and strangers a lot better now for sure. I'm even public speaking in a few weeks (at the west palm library, if you're local). Oh and I'm totally still pretty awkward, but I don't know if theres a motivational talk that can help me out grow that, haha. Happy first week of February!


ps. thats me up there in that photo! but please note how I am approximately four feet from land. But hey, baby steps, right? Basically I had been mildly conquering new fears on my recent mexico trip-- it wasn't planned, just sort of happened. And with one hour left to catch our shuttle to the airport-- Celia convinced me to get in the cenote for a photo--- all alone--- with no one around to help me if a snake or something swam up haha. Something I would have NEVER done before. But I did it. So there's that. Photo by my amazing friends, Celia D. Luna.

pps. I was recently having a conversation with a friend (I don't even remember about what, but probably about recent happenings and predicaments in my life), but he said, "well, it doesn't serve you, does it?" --- which essentially translates the same way. My guess is he also picked up that idea from sort of motivational something or other (we're all lovers of self help self growth sort of things ;) haha), but I thought I should bring it up! There's lots of ways to stop and check in with things and moments in your life. I totally recommend you do--- in whichever which way you want to do it! For me, I really appreciate the idea of usefulness-- to the things around me, to what I choose to do, and especially in how I choose to feel :)